April 2020…that’s where we were. Just ending my contract at Segue. No idea what the future held.
It’s been a bit of a ride to get where we are today. In that time I was able to work for Valley Fiber for a time as the grandpa for a group of young people in a new Customer Service dept. That lasted about a year and a half before Menieres cut that short. In that time, I can honestly say I had some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my 40+ years in the work force. Stressful? Sure, but I always had people who had my back and let me make decisions on the fly. Did we make mistakes, absolutely. Key thing was to teach people to own it and see what we COULD do for people rather than just saying it can’t be done.
Made some very good friends in that time. We still try to keep in touch as best we can. I believe it was April 2021 I started feeling the effects of Menieres. For those unfamiliar, it can include vertigo, tinnitus and the feeling that your ears are closed and won’t pop. At it’s worst, your room spins. It can be draining. Walking is can best be described as the feeling of trying to avoid sniper fire. It’s not something visible, much like any other mental health issue. So most people don’t understand when you’re not working anymore. Or leave the house, which I didn’t do for months on end.
It threw a major curveball into our plans. Arlene needed to keep working, for which we are very grateful. The Nica experience, drained a big chunk of our retirement fund. Long story I won’t get into here. We’re surviving, it just meant a lot of adjustments.
The pandemic didn’t really affect us socially. We weren’t going out much anyway. Wearing a mask in stores didn’t bother us. We saw it as our way of helping our over burdened health care system.
I was lucky to have a cousin with Menieres. Lucky only in that we could talk and compare notes. It helped be a great deal to know what to expect. My Dr, Dr Brett, has been a great help as well. Menieres has no cure, you just manage it as best you can.
I did try a comeback at Valley Fiber…twice. But, it just seemed so overwhelming, I just couldn’t perform at the level I was used to. I give them all the credit for giving me the opportunity to try. They have been nothing short of gracious and affirming with me. They’ve grown a ton as well. I was employee #50ish when I first started in the Bullpen. A year later, I was #350ish. That’s a ton of growth in a short period of time. Do they always get it right? No, but I believe they learned and improved over time. I won’t name all the people, I’d forget some. You know who you are.
So what to do with the spare time? When the pandemic hit, the one thing it did affect was the ability for our band, The Committee, to do live gigs. For a while we didn’t even get together. So with the encouragement from Arlene, my rock, I dove a little deeper into learning my bass. I signed up for a few online groups, one of which was a catalyst in meeting others in the same group. Those meetings turned into online friendships with people in other parts of Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Croatia. Some of which I still meet with virtually on Saturday mornings. In that group, we’ve covered music of course, but also happenings in those parts of the world. It’s interesting the similarities we have regarding world events. Our friend from Croatia has more recent experience with war in his country, so his perspective can be humbling when we think of things that we’re facing.
Part of the courses we all took, was to record and post a video of the song we were all working on. This can be a bit daunting. You can play a song perfectly 100 times, but for some reason when the red light comes on the camera, the nerves come into play and mistakes rear their head. It gets a little easier with time, but everyone talks about it, even the players of superior skill levels. Again, it seems that no matter where you are on the skill level meter, we share some common challenges. It’s just nice to be able to share those stories with each other.
So fast forward to past the rhetoric of the mask mandates to a time where there’s nothing more to protest against. Things have opened up again. Masking is more of a recommended thing at this point. Can’t say it wasn’t effective considering the drop in regular colds and flus during that time. So, why do I still feel hesitant to go out to and do the things we used to do? Not really worried about the virus, I still like people, but it would appear I’ve become comfortable being at home. So much so, that we’ve passed on concerts and outings we’d normally attend. I mean, finances play into it for sure. We simply don’t have the funds to do all the things we used to. Even if we did, I’m not so sure we would.
I’ve found it easier to just sit in my chair at home. There’s something called fight or flight. I seem to be doing the latter. To that end, I will be entering into some counselling sessions with the aim to be developing strategies on getting my ass out of the chair. I know music is still fun, getting together with friends is still fun. Doing it, is another thing altogether.
So, to finish this off, one of the reasons I wrote this, is to take a step toward doing something I enjoy again. Writing about stuff. And to highlight that mental health issues are real. They’re not always debilitating, but real nonetheless. It’s ok to ask for help….
I do want to thank a couple of friends, Randy Reimer and Bill Dowling, my regular coffee buddies that get me out of the house.
My bass buddies, they give me something to look forward to.
The band I’m in, The Committee. They’ve jumped in to help me move my gear when it’s become apparent I can’t carry what I used to. Making music with them is good therapy.
And mostly my family. They’ve been there for me every step of the way. Much love to all of them.